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Cycling tour of the Heartlands of Fife

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Experienced cyclist James Bonner takes us on an 80km cycle tour round the Heartlands of Fife taking in coast, countryside and towns and villages - a great selection of what Fife has to offer if you're travelling on two wheels. 
Kinghorn to Cowdenbeath

Kinghorn to Cowdenbeath

From its prominent location on the Fife coast, I am joined by a friend to cycle west from the beautiful town of Kinghorn (which is served by a train station) to Burntisland, before turning inland and a stretch of uphill cycling to the small town of Cowdenbeath. These roads can be quite busy with traffic, and combined with the steady gradient, makes this route perhaps more suitable for quite confident cyclists.

Cowdenbeath to Falkland

Cowdenbeath to Falkland

After stopping at Cowdenbeath for some lunch we cycle along a flatter and quieter route parallel to the M90 motorway to the lovely town of Kinross (having crossed into Perth and Kinross) and around the waters of Loch Leven (this is part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network (NCN) route 1). While Loch Leven castle, on an island in the loch, is temporarily closed, it would be a perfect place to visit on this route. From the north side of the loch it is possible to cycle directly back towards the coast, or, as we did, to extend this ride to the north east towards the town of Auchtermuchty, back in Fife. Turning off the main road at the hamlet of Wester Balgedie, we moved along a beautiful rural route (on a signposted ‘cycling and walking friendly road’) and some fantastic views of the Fife landscape. Though this is generally a good road for cycling, it is quite narrow at points and there are a few areas to be careful where loose stones are on the surface.

Falkland to the Lomond Hills

Falkland to the Lomond Hills

We join the A912 at Strathmiglo, and cycle south to the beautiful and historic village of Falkland. This is a place well worth stopping and spending some time (and you can follow the NCN route 1 to the south-east, and back to the coast). We have incorporated one of Fife’s best cycling hill climbs into our route, which takes us west up into the Lomond Hills from the village. Climbing 200 metres or so in a few kilometres, this is quite a challenging climb and, again, more suitable for more confident cyclists. However, it is generally quiet, and if you have plenty gears on your bike you will slowly make it up! From the top there are some amazing views to the south and the coast, and a thrilling descent to enjoy. As ever, it is important to be aware of other road users especially at tight bends and blind summits.

Lomond Hills to Kinghorn

Lomond Hills to Kinghorn

At the foot of the hill we pass through Leslie, and cycle into the town of Glenrothes - which has many wide, busy roads and lots of roundabouts, and south towards Kirkcaldy. Here we join a main road, and soon are nearby a busy dual carriageway. We have taken a couple of wrong turns to get to here, and we stop to find the safe route into Kirkcaldy (over a footbridge at the A92, which requires carrying/wheeling your bike up steps) and into the town. Specifically refer to the Sustrans online map to plan for this section. Into Kirkcaldy we cycle along the waterfront, which is being significantly upgraded to make it more cycling and pedestrian friendly, and back to Kinghorn. We have a well-deserved drink overlooking the sea after a great day’s cycle!

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